Shane Beagle has been in the garage hammering and nailing for years.
He's now working fulltime towards his goal of a building apprenticeship, on a trades training course at Whangarei's Tikipunga High School.
Shane, 17, and his classmates will have completed a two-bedroom house by the end of the school year, and earned themselves 120 NCEA credits - the equivalent of a whole year's study.
It's part of Tai Tokerau Trades Training, also operating at Northland College and at Kaitaia College.
Tikipunga's course offers students the chance to study a fulltime carpentry course and build an entire house, which will be sold by Ngatiwai Trust Board at the end of the year.
Shane, a Year 13 student, hopes to get a building apprenticeship when he leaves school, so the project is helping him with future goals.
"I've just always liked building things, so this course seemed a good idea," he said.
The course aims to give students who would otherwise fall through the cracks of the traditional school system a chance to take part in courses that are relevant to them. It will give them literacy and numeracy credits, as well as credits in carpentry.
The project will be officially launched tonight at the school, with the 14 students' whanau members and representatives from Ngatiwai and Te Puni Kokiri, partners in the project.
Plans for the house were to be delivered to the school today.
Principal Peter Garelja said the school had been the benefactor while the class waited for the house plans - fix-it jobs that had been hanging around suddenly had keen carpenters willing to give them a go. The boys had also made sawhorses, which would get a workout once the building was under way.
Class teacher Mal Cooke has been in the job for only a week. The builder had been working on luxury properties at Marsden Cove when the position was advertised.
"I'd been wanting a change for a while, so this came up at the right time," Mr Cooke said.
"I'm really enjoying it. They're a good group of guys who are pretty motivated. Mind you, they were using the sawhorses as hurdles last Friday.
"I imagine not all of these guys will go on to become builders, but it's good life-skills. And if you change someone's life for the better, then it's worth it."